Cabergoline: Side Effects, Dosage, Uses, and More

June 29, 2022

What is cabergoline?

Cabergoline oral tablet is a prescription drug that’s only available as a generic drug. There is no brand-name version available. Cabergoline only comes as a tablet you take by mouth.

Why it’s used

Cabergoline is used to treat hyperprolactinemia (high levels of prolactin in your body). This happens when your pituitary gland makes extra prolactin. High prolactin levels may be caused by a hormone problem or by a tumor in your pituitary gland.
High prolactin levels can cause changes in a woman’s ovulation, menstrual cycle, and breast milk production. In men, high prolactin levels can affect reproduction and cause sexual issues. These issues include a decreased sex drive and not being able to get or keep an erection.

How it works

Cabergoline belongs to a class of drugs called dopamine agonists. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
Dopamine is a chemical your body makes. It prevents your body from releasing prolactin. Cabergoline works by binding to dopamine receptors. This also keeps your body from releasing prolactin, which helps decrease your prolactin levels.

Cabergoline side effects

Cabergoline oral tablet can cause drowsiness as well as other side effects.

More common side effects

The more common side effects of cabergoline oral tablet can include:
nausea
constipation
headache
dizziness
weakness or lack of energy
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following.
Scarring of tissues in your organs, such as your heart, lungs, and kidneys. Symptoms can include:
trouble breathing
shortness of breath
a cough that doesn’t go away
chest pain that doesn’t go away
stomach pain
swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet
Heart valve problems. Symptoms can include:
swelling in your arms, legs, hands, or feet
trouble breathing
changes in your heart rhythm
chest pain
cough

Cabergoline may interact with other medications

Cabergoline oral tablet can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.
To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Examples of drugs that can cause interactions with cabergoline are listed below.

Drugs you should not use with cabergoline

Don’t take these drugs with cabergoline. Doing so can cause dangerous effects in your body. These drugs work in the exact opposite way that cabergoline does. This means these drugs and cabergoline will not work well because their effects cancel each other out. Examples of these drugs include:
Antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol, thiothixene, chlorpromazine, and prochlorperazine
Anti-nausea drugs such as metoclopramide or promethazine

Cabergoline warnings

This drug comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

Cabergoline can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:
trouble breathing
swelling of your throat or tongue
If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For people with heart problems: If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure or heart valve problems, you should not use this drug. It can make your condition worse. If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor if your blood pressure is under control.
For people with history of tissue scarring: If you have a history of scarred tissue in your lungs, heart, kidney, or abdomen (stomach area), you should not use this drug. It can make your condition worse.
For people with high blood pressure from pregnancy: If you’re currently pregnant and have high blood pressure from your pregnancy, you should not use this drug. It can make your condition worse.
For people with liver problems: You may not be able to process this drug well. This may increase the levels of the drug in your body and cause more side effects.

How to take cabergoline

This dosage information is for cabergoline oral tablet. All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:
your age
the condition being treated
how severe your condition is
other medical conditions you have
how you react to the first dose

Forms and strengths

Generic: Cabergoline

Form: oral tablet

Strength: 0.5 mg

Dosage for high prolactin levels

Adult dosage (ages 18 to 64 years)

Typical starting dosage: 0.25 mg taken twice per week.
Dosage increases: Your doctor may increase your dosage by 0.25 mg. This decision depends on your prolactin levels. Your doctor may increase your dosage once every 4 weeks.
Maximum dosage: 1 mg twice per week.

Take as directed

Cabergoline oral tablet is used for short-term treatment. It comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.
If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all: The levels of prolactin in your blood will stay high. In women, high prolactin levels can change ovulation, menstrual cycles, and breast milk production. In men, high prolactin levels can affect reproduction and cause sexual issues. These include a decreased sex drive and not being able to get or keep an erection.
If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule: Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.
If you take too much: You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:
nasal congestion
fainting
hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.
What to do if you miss a dose: Take your dose as soon as you remember. If you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.
How to tell if the drug is working: You should have decreased levels of prolactin in your body. Your doctor will check your prolactin levels with a blood test.

Important considerations for taking this drug

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes cabergoline oral tablet for you.

General

You should take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor.
You can take this drug with or without food.
You can cut or crush the tablet.
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead to make sure your pharmacy carries the drug.

Storage

Store cabergoline at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
Keep this drug in the container it came in.
Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

Refills

A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:
Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues during your treatment. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include your:
Heart function. Your doctor may do an echocardiogram (ECG) and other tests to check your heart before and during your treatment with this drug. This is to make sure it’s safe for you to take. If you develop problems with your heart valves, your doctor will stop your treatment with this drug.
Prolactin levels. Your doctor will do blood tests to measure the amount of prolactin in your body. This will help your doctor decide if you still need treatment with this drug.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.
Cabergoline is a prescription medication used to treat high levels of prolactin. Cabergoline belongs to a group of drugs called dopamine receptor agonists. These work by reducing the amount of prolactin in the body, which reduces symptoms of high prolactin including infertility and bone loss in women or men. 
This medication comes in tablet form and is taken twice a week, with or without food.
Common side effects of cabergoline include constipation, fatigue, and a sudden drop in blood pressure. Cabergoline can also cause dizziness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how cabergoline affects you.